I just read an article by John Stossel, yes THAT guy. It seems unlikely that I would read anything from him, but I do. Its not that I ever agree with him, its just the same compulsion that Keith Olbermann has with "Bill-O" (watch his show, and you will know what I mean). I find him kind of humorous in a maddening sort of way. His logic is unfounded and foolish to the being insane.
On a few occasions he has written that the reason everyone has Microsoft installed on their computers is because it is "popular." In other words, people bought it since it is "such a good product."
Oh really? Why is it that it always crashes? Why is it that when I buy a computer it is already installed for me. I don't have an option in the matter. There are no other choices. I can't just tell the salesperson that I would rather have them put Linux on my computer, since it is branded illegal for being a better product.
And yes, because people like their software so much that they are sued by the EU $1 million a day for forcing us to use windows media player. I agree with Stossel that people should have choices in what they consume, but a totally free-market, or a more fashionably stated as Lassiez-fare, will lead to an autocracy of the market. This is a period in which innovation, creativity, and individuality are neutralized. No one can compete since they don't have the market control.
What the difference between a faceless government and a faceless corporation? This isn't a punchline to joke; its a serious question. My answer to Mr. Stossel is "nothing, there isn't any difference. Neither has the desire to have competition at all, and they will do whatever they can to eliminate it."
He needs a good slap across the forehead. Its too unrealistic to live with a mindset that one side is better then the other. His views on the free market are like those of a religious fundamentalist. If you are poor and starving you don't aimlessly believe that "God will provide," and do nothing to rectify the situation. But Stossel thinks the same way. If you allow a company to break all the rules and limit our choices, then well the free market will provide. And, if someone questions that logic, then well they don't have any faith and deserve to be in their destitute situation.
Microsoft is not a superior product, because everyone has it on their computers. Much like AOL, people are forced to use it, then when they want to get rid of it they are meet with incredible resistance by the company.
Where should the line be drawn on government regulation? I think it is foolish to believe that we should do away with all of the regulations. Just as foolish to impose a socialist government. Where is the balance? Quite frankly, I don't know.
What I do know is that we have to quit allowing the argument to be dictated by the extremes; most of those are as ill informed as they are irrational in their thinking.
A good starting point would probably be centered on questioned the meaning of individualism.
Should an individual have responsibility for any adverse efforts of their actions, or should we live in a Ayn Rand novel and be devoid of any responsibility?
If we can approach this discussion with a serious tone, then maybe we can create a market in which people can be truly empowered.